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Sawyer Free Library hosts groundbreaking celebration

Sofia Orlando
The Sawyer Free Library before its upcoming renovation.

Mark your calendars, as this Friday, September 29, The Sawyer Free Library will commence its groundbreaking celebration following the highly anticipated historic renovation, modernization, and expansion of the building. This momentous event marks the commencement of an ambitious project that will transform the heart of the Gloucester community.

The celebration will be located at 2 Dale Avenue in Gloucester, in the tented parking lot and will start at 3:00 p.m. and last until 4:30 p.m. 

The event is open to all to experience this exciting local history, as the ground will be symbolically broken and set the foundation for the shiny-new 2025 Sawyer Free Library. All ages are welcome.

The afternoon will include many festivities, including a speaking program with locally elected officials and Library leaders, along with the first ceremonial shovel hitting the ground. The mood will be set with music and refreshments will be provided.

“I am truly excited about this groundbreaking and what it means for our community. The 2025 Sawyer Free Library will be an asset for every resident of Gloucester and beyond,” said Mayor Greg Verga. “This is a fantastic way to round out our 400th anniversary as we look forward to the next century.” 

The plan to transform the library into a space that better meets the communities need has been in the works for nearly a decade.

“Now as we prepare to officially break ground on this wonderful public project, you can feel the excitement,” Mern Sibley, President of the Library’s Board of Trustees said.  We are grateful for the tremendous engagement, support, and investment from everyone who has helped us reach this historic milestone and continue to work with us to bring the City of Gloucester the 21st-century Library it so needs and deserves.

Jenny Benedict, the library director is ready to begin the next chapter of the Sawyer Free Library’s history.

“Its new community spaces amplify opportunities for involving people, as we have for more than 140 years, in public forums that foster a spirit of community and participation,” Benedict said. 

The visionary project, jointly created by the team of Oudens Ello Architecture and Dore + Whittier Architecture, the construction management firm W.T Rich, and the library’s project managers, with significant participation from Gloucester residents, has three separate buildings with a complete interior renovation of the existing library buildings built in 1976 and 1913 and a new extension with an area of ​​13,000 square meters. The library’s architecture will harmoniously combine old and new, creating a structure that seamlessly blends tradition and innovation. 

As a LEED Gold-certified building with advanced sustainability features, the Sawyer Free Library 2025 will also be a prime example of actions that can be taken in the design and operation of a building to protect the climate and nature based on design principles, where people come first. The first of its kind in Cape Ann, the Sawyer 2025 Free Library is a next-generation public building with an all-electric heating and cooling system powered by clean, renewable energy generated on-site. The renovated and expanded Library will maximize natural resources and light, ensure excellent air quality, prioritize public safety, and promote accessibility for all community members.

The library will feature current and new public technologies, diverse collections, engaging programs, and new spaces for collaboration, learning, and relaxation. It includes a digital creative space, audio and video recording studios, a 100-seat community room equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for multimedia presentations, a research center dedicated to the history of Gloucester, a room for teenagers, a magnificent expanded room, a Children’s classroom with a literacy center for young children, individual and group study rooms, a conference room for 16 people and much more. With its modern and sustainable design, the library will provide an inspiring environment for users, staff, the community, and beyond.

“Sawyer Free Library is one of Cape Ann’s treasured gems, and this groundbreaking represents both a monumental milestone and a cause for celebration,” said John Brennan, president of the Sawyer Library Foundation. “But this community’s work isn’t done. The philanthropic capital campaign is still $11 million dollars away from fully funding this project, so anyone who is able should do their best to contribute whatever they can to help remake our beloved institution.”

The Sawyer Free Library has over $17.5 million committed and is steadily working towards its $29 million goal. This includes approximately $10.3 million in grants from the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Project (MPLCP) and Green Library Incentives. 

If you would like to know how to get involved, visit – as The Sawyer Library Foundation will continue to seek funding through individual and corporate donors, federal, state, and municipal government grants, and nonprofit foundations. 

The project is scheduled to begin mid-October, lasting eighteen months with a projected finishing date sometime in mid-2025. The 2025 Sawyer Free will be constructed by W.T. Rich Company of Beverly.

To find more information about the 2025 Sawyer Free Library project and the groundbreaking ceremony, please visit or text 978-325-5500.

WHAT: Sawyer Free Library Groundbreaking Ceremony
WHEN: September 29, 2023
WHERE: 2 Dale Avenue

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About the Contributors
ASHLEE SCOLA, Staff Writer
Ashlee is a senior at GHS, and a first year staff writer for The Gillnetter. Her hobbies include studying and collecting crystals, listening to all kinds of music and creative writing. She is an honors student and a member of NHS. Her dad is the School Resource Officer, a.k.a. ‘Scola’-- so she’s been around Gloucester Public Schools and its events for many years. You can contact Ashlee with any questions or suggestions at [email protected] 
Sofia Orlando
Sofia Orlando, Editor in Chief
Sofia Orlando is a senior at GHS and is Editor in Chief for The Gillnetter. She is a member of the National Honors Society (NHS) and has won awards for her accomplishments regarding world history and journalism. In her free time, Sofia can be found baking, hanging out with friends and family, walking around town, or watching any of her favorite movies. She also has a fraternal twin sister! You can contact her with any questions or story ideas at: [email protected]

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